"We called it the dough boy. And it only happened one time," says Tim Setiawan of The Architect's Kitchen
, or ArKi for short. I lean in closer, visions of a Pilsbury doughboy made of fried chicken dancing in my head. ArKi's Food Truck, San Francisco's token fried chicken and donuts truck, has only served this secret menu item once to a guy at Off The Grid who asked for the idea that had been in the back of Setiawan's mind. "We de-boned some fried chicken wings and then used the donut as the bread." Obscene, unreal, a heart attack waiting to happen? Well, at least now you know it's an option next time ArKi rolls up nearby.
After working as an architect and an aviation planner for 8 years, Setiawan
was ready for a change. He did a short stint as a pastry cook and a brief stage at Prospect
before he told himself, "I'm 40, enough is enough." And then he found fried chicken. It was actually his wife's suggestion --as so many men's good ideas are-- that he fill a fried chicken and donuts niche.
"An architect might stereotypically prefer visually striking food, but my heart is in comfort food," Setiawan says. His prowess for design is evident from the truck's graphic decor and he chooses the lounge music tunes that blast from behind the friers, but this architect's kitchen is all about good food.
Setiawan points out that hot donuts are hard to find, catching himself when he admits that it's not exactly something people search out - "but it would be hard to find if they were looking, and once they've found it, I think they're happy the have" he laughs. There are no heat lamps in this operation so all the donuts and fried chicken come out greasy, crisp and piping hot for each order. This is simple food, but when chicken is fried just right - succulent, juicy, crunchy - there's not much better. The beignet style donuts are oh so hot, oh so doughy, and oh so darn deep fried. "Food isn't hard," says Setiawan, who chose his starter recipe just two weeks before the truck opened, "it's all about the tinkering."
Setiawan like thes idea of a standard menu and is happy to be doing six things really well. The ArKi truck serves up chicken and donut combos, chicken sandwiches, chicken and rice and an Asian style rice bowl with chicken puffs and a sweet and spicy glaze. Setiawan is Chinese and Indonesian, has fried chicken written in Japanese along the bottom of his truck-- and he hates the word "fusion." While he wants to ramp up the Asian part of his menu, he also wants to leave the Pan Asian concept in the 90s where it belongs.
You can check the ArKi truck's schedule
to track down the truck. The truck frequents the SoMA Streat Food Park, Battery Street and the UN Plaza. Maybe you can order the second-ever dough boy. Good luck.